Don’t expect the Game 2 to be the same as Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Coach Alain Vigneault knows it and is expecting it.
“We’re playing against a really fast team that plays a really good system,” he said this morning. “We’re going to try and execute and make the right plays with the puck when we have the puck, and we’re definitely going to have to defend well.”
The Rangers take on the Lightning at 8 pm tonight for the second game of the series at Madison Square Garden. After pretty much outplaying the Bolts in Game 1, even though the score was the usual 2-1, there’s going to be some changes from coach Jon Cooper.
“For the game to be — I think it was like the shortest game of the playoffs time-wise,” Cooper said. “It wasn’t very physical. It’s just, instead of first game of the Conference Finals, it was like Game 53, and we can’t play it like that. So our will has to be stronger. Our determination has to be stronger. And the group, every time they’ve been challenged, has found a way to elevate themselves. It’s unfortunate that we’re down 0-1. It was probably a little bit of an eye-opening experience for us, but our will has got to be stronger.”
Even though the Rangers won the game, they still need to work on putting a few more pucks past Ben Bishop. They got good looks in Game 1, but didn’t convert on a number of golden opportunities.
Today, they will be facing a team that doesn’t want to go back home 0-2, so expect the Lightning to have a better forecheck and become more physical against the speedy Rangers.
“I think if you watch the Detroit series and a lot of things that went on there, we may not say — that may not be our MO, but we have a lot of guys that game it out and a lot of guys that will play it that way,” Cooper said. “I think we have found ourselves playing to our competition. From the way the other team plays, sometimes we’ve had a habit of that throughout the regular season is playing to the team we’re playing.
“Detroit was a much more physical series, physical games than Montreal was. I don’t know how this is going to keep going, but I’m sure the series will get more physical than it was the other night. But this is two teams that I’d consider faster teams in the league. It was a pretty fast-paced game. But in order to slow them down a little bit and put a little bit more pressure on their “D”, we’ve got to try to knock them around a little bit.”
One thing is for certain, it should be tight and that’s the way Vigneault likes it.
“I don’t think you can win in the NHL on a consistent basis if you cannot play in these situations. Teams are so close,” Vigneault said. ” There is so little separating us that most games are tight games. Most games are one-goal games. You might get the odd one there that there’s a little bit more offense. But for our group, we’re very — I don’t know if comfortable is the word to use, but it’s just the way that these games have unfolded and we’ve found ways to win them.”
Tonight, the Rangers will try to do it again.